|In 1934, the Army Air Corps saw the need for another airfield in Hawai‘i and assigned the Quartermaster Corps the job of constructing a modern airdrome from tangled brush and sugar cane fields adjacent to Pearl Harbor. The site consisted of 2,200 acres (9 km²) of ancient, emerged coral reef covered by a thin layer of soil, with the Pearl Harbor entrance channel and naval reservation marking its western and northern boundaries, John Rodgers Airport (HIA today) to the east, and Fort Kamehameha on the south. The new airfield was dedicated on 31 May 1935 and named in honor of Lt Col Horace Meek Hickam, a distinguished aviation pioneer who was killed in an aircraft accident the previous November 5 at Fort Crockett in Galveston, Texas. |
Construction was still in progress when the first contingent of 12 men and four aircraft under the command of 1st Lt Robert Warren arrived from Luke Field on Ford Island on September 1, 1937. Hickam Field, as it was then known, was completed and officially activated on September 15, 1938. It was the principal army airfield in Hawai‘i and the only one large enough to accommodate the B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. In connection with defense plans for the Pacific, aircraft were brought to Hawai‘i throughout 1941 to prepare for potential hostilities.
The first mass flight of bombers (21 B-17Ds) from Hamilton Field, California arrived at Hickam on 14 May 1941. By December, the "Hawaiian Air Force" had been an integrated command for slightly more than one year and consisted of 754 officers and 6,706 enlisted men, with 233 aircraft assigned at its three primary bases: Hickam, Wheeler Field (now Wheeler Army Airfield}, and Bellows Field (now Bellows Air Force Station).